On the spur of the moment, Mike and I decided to take a one night trip to Philadelphia. Neither of us have ever been there and it was only a 3 hour drive, like going to VA Beach. There's nothing like a new world to explore! We found it to be a crazy mash up of Richmond (for hipsters and art), Baltimore (for the dirty parts), and DC (for the diverse architecture).
The drive went smooth and we arrived at the hotel, in the heart of the city, pumped and ready to go. That's when the receptionist told us Kayak had messed up our reservation: we were booked for the NEXT weekend and there were no more rooms. (&#%)*#)$*#_$ Every other hotel in the city was crazy pricey. We set our sights over the bridge to NJ.
Driving through Philly is a b*tch. There are a million random ramps and sporadic merges. If you don't know where you are going, take a Xanax before attempting this. Somehow we weaved our way through the city only to arrive at our $70 a night hotel in the middle of nothing NJ. It was really old. and barren. I'm pretty certain there were some prostitution deals going down.
As for fine dining, there was one major institution keeping the area alive: Cherry Hill Mall. I have never seen a mall so massive. The entire highway is dictated by this damn monolith to shopping as there is no break in the guard rail median. If you're going the wrong way, you'll be stuck for several miles. FUN! We settled on something "local".. California Pizza Kitchen.
At this point, all we could do was laugh and return to our luxury suite.
The morning started with a spring in our step and left over pizza for breakfast. We hit the ground running with absolutely no battle plan. Commence the nomad tip!
We parked next to China town, which had plenty of fresh produce and local vendors. It was pretty impressive and unexpected. It was a healthy size and had that "smell" you associate with ethnic markets- that's when you know it's REAL. This is NOT like China town in DC, these people mean business. I wanted to buy every green plant in site.
We had to find the famous LOVE sculpture located in "Love Park" to which we had a good chuckle. I'm sorry... but we were both under the impression that this sculpture was grandiose in size. It's not big. But it does generate one heck of a crowd. Mike tried to wiggle away, but it just wouldn't be right if we didn't take a picture in front of it.
There was the mandatory visit to the museum where Rocky was shot running up the steps. It's just as it sounds like, steps. There is a statue of Rocky and a Rocky impersonator to take pictures with. This statue is in front of the museum, which I couldn't find an explanation. It was an interesting mash up of native American images. There's so much history to the town, I should have read a book on way up or at least wikipedia.
After that, we commenced a hunt for a Philly coffee shop. We lost. All the ones that came up on the internet were not open. Dunkin Donuts- you win. Anybody know any good coffee shops in Philly??
We stumbled upon a local art show brought to you by the Philadelphia Art Alliance. It was all modern pieces, with expansive wall displays of ink plots and and books containing symbolic charms. There was a lot of tactical pieces. Inspiration is everywhere. Great job Philadelphia Art Alliance! Keep holding down the art scene.
Of course we wanted to keep it local, so you can imagine the delight when I saw Philly Cupcakes. Doesn't get better than that! The shop was cute and full of pink pink pink! The cupcakes are displayed in large old fashioned cabinets and they have a diverse selection. The cupcake was all right and I did pick up crazy cute cupcake liners that they design.
There was an amazing art store, Utrecht, where we were able to purchase some Montana graffiti cans and tips. Mike thought the only spot you could get these bad boys was New York! Hoooooorayyy!!! Summer is going to be colorful.
On the main shopping strip, there were a ton boojie shops. The boy had his eye on a shoe spot: UBIQ. His thoughts: "Gorgeous interior. I liked it cuz it took itself, in terms of design very seriously. Up scale much like Gucci and LV stores. But it had that street feel cuz it was still sneakers and anyone who had a slight interest could walk in. Even though it looked pretentious it wasn't, cuz the culture seems more accessible than a Gucci store. The selection was kinda wack tho. Major had a better selection shoes wise."
From there, the cashier recommended a Burmese restaurant called Rangoon back in the Chinatown district. Neither of us have ever tried Burmese so the idea piqued interest. The restaurant was laid out like your typical Chinese restaurant as was the menu. Our entries were simple and plain, I had fried rice with some shrimp paste in it and chicken. Maybe we just didn't order authentic? The Burmese wontons, however, stuffed with pork, drizzled with sweet coconut and sesame seeds are legit. DELICIOUS! Crisp and sweet.
To end a nutty, nomadic wandering trip, we met up with some acquaintances that break for a little session at Temple university. Much love to our gracious hosts Ookie and Alex. Plus, Sunny gave me a hat to replace the one that fell off my bag while scoping out the city. Let me tell you, these kids are awesome dancers and sweethearts! We were terrified of their slippery dance floor, but it was an honor to dance with 'em. Thanks Philly dance scene!
We will be back this summer for the food market!